3.5 years at Bedside and 1 year as a Clinical Instructor

Why did you choose nursing?

Initially, I wasn’t interested in the profession, I thought I would not be able to do it – you know, night shifts, long work hours, stress, etc., etc. But, I took it up eventually, purely for job security and to earn money – thank god for this decision – it changed me a lot! It changed my perspective about nursing! Now, I am a post-graduate nurse, which I never thought I’d ever be!

The student life – there was a huge difference in what I was expecting and how it turned out to be. I simply loved the whole process, rather each and every aspect in college and the training setup, brought me closer and made me develop a sense of belonging to the profession. It helped me re-build my skills, adapt to situations both, in my professional as well as personal life. Being a nurse has helped me in each and every stage of life..all through the time when my mother fell sick and I could understand that it was not normal chest pain, to right now, when I’m serving my maternity leave. Nursing has helped me take care of my baby, sometimes I wonder, how would I be able to handle my baby if not for nursing! I was so scared to even touch newborns!

What were your challenges in being a nurse?

Talking about the initial challenge, with the timings and shift hours, it was quite difficult, but at the end of the day, I felt blessed to be able to help those in need. It was not just a formal work setup, even our communication matters there, sometimes patients appreciate us as we help them through the pain, that appreciation is the most precious!

Even when the families and relatives of the patient ask us uncountable questions due to their concerns, we may not know all the answers, but one thing we know for sure is that we definitely CAN help them in any given situation! That’s the confidence nursing has given me.

Along with administering the treatment, we as nurses, explain the patients what to expect in their diagnosed treatment, I always did that. I always made sure I prepared my patients mentally. Once, I was working in the labour section, and a lady was in for a normal delivery, she was extremely fearful and nervous. I very clearly explained to her the delivery procedure and told her that I will be there by her side. After her successful delivery, she thanked me for being so empathetic and she had tears in her eyes while thanking me.

Like I said, nursing is not a 9 to 5 job, it involves creating a direct impact to the lives of people.

You have worked across two different dimensions of nursing, at the bedside, helping the patients to now, being a clinical instructor, which job do you like the most?

Bedside for sure! But I do feel both aspects of nursing are extremely important. I definitely loved my experiences by the bedside in a hospital setup, and now, at an institutional set up as an instructor. 

What is the difference in working at a clinical setup verus in an institutional setup?

Here, as an instructor, I am producing a bulk of nurses for a better future, whereas, the bedside duty is for personal interest. While working in a hospital, communication is key, not only while dealing with patients and their families but also with the doctors, hospital administration, it’s like being a part of a big puzzle, of course, that experience helped me to work on developing skills as an individual. Now, you must have heard of diploma courses in nursing, like ANM and GNM. ANM is for community development and welfare, GNM is for 3 and half years, BSC is for 4 years, both their syllabuses are pretty much the same, but BSC allows practicals. BSC has more scope than GNM. As you can choose teaching as well but after GNM you can only choose a clinical field.

I see that many of my students feel an institutional setup is better than a clinical one – my answer is NO! If you work in a clinical setup, you see and learn different things, especially if you’re working in the casualty and critical section. With my own personal experience, I had a colleague working in the casualty section, her response time and the way she handled such different things that were to be done all at one, was commendable, in comparison to me and my skill set, when I was working in the labour section. I only had to focus on one type of patient. That ability and skill is built only when you are working in such a buzzing environment.

In a medical setup, developing both knowledge and skill is extremely important. I personally love the clinical setup, and I feel it is thoroughly necessary to experience and learn both equally, you will be able to teach better if you yourself have had an experience, and you will be able to apply your knowledge in your duty if you have studied with complete focus.

What are the challenges that you think cause the nurses leaving their jobs midway?

First of all, most of the students come without an interest in nursing – either they come for only securing a job, or they come from economically weaker backgrounds and join purely for salaries, so they join any alternate line in the nursing profession, avoiding the bedside.

Another issue is that we don’t have proper salaries, for example, many freshers start at a particular salary and they continue at the same salary for as long as two years also.The financial support here is pretty weak. Of course, the situation has improved over the years, but not all hospitals provide this.

Third is respect, when any individual comes to know a person is working in the medical field they all say “wow, you’re doing a great job, etc., etc.” as soon as they come to know that we are into nursing, all their respect goes down the drain. This starts from the college level, the nursing students are not respected or treated equally as other students. Nursing is still looked down upon.

For good paying nursing jobs, you mostly have to stay away from your family as only some hospitals offer decent pay and privileges, if you don’t want to stay away from home, you will have to compromise on a pay cut and settle with whatever salary you can draw in your hometown. One way or the other, there are a bunch of things that need improvement. These are the main reasons aspiring nurses pull out of the job, nowadays, 60% of aspiring nurses only join with the intent of moving abroad. They complete their course, take a year’s experience and then move abroad.

What do you love about nursing?

I’m able to meet and communicate with so many different people all at once, moreover it helps me in developing my skills, I’m unable to put the right words here. 

Once, I was so scared to handle a baby, but nursing taught me not to be fearful, in fact, I had to be around to correct the new parents when they were trying to hold their newborn baby. 

In the 4 years of nursing education, we touch upon various aspects of specialisation, like gynaecology or cardiacology, but on the job, these medical professionals actually tell us how to do certain things, which widens our skill set, we literally learn more than what a book can teach, you must have seen news articles, that somewhere student nurses conducted a delivery of a baby while traveling. These things were possible as we automatically get trained on the job in each specialization, may not be in-depth, but we definitely do. It’s like the old grandma’s tales you know, we nurses, have a remedy for each and everything that could medically go wrong in the human body. Recently, my mom had chest pain, to which, everyone in the family thought that it was not alarming, but I could identify that it was something serious, thanks to my professional experience. 

From doctors to paramedics to pharmacists, we know it all, as we are the connecting dots, somehow,many of  these have been important aspects of nursing, which were later branched out due to workload and focus. I love learning different things about this profession!

It’s great to know that you have such a positive outlook towards your profession, which will definitely impact the aspiring nurses. What are your biggest challenges when you were on your nursing duty?

Certain experiences and expectations were not told to us. Like, initially when something needs to be done and we as new joinees were not clear, a senior nurse would comment things like, “haven’t you studied this? How come you don’t know about this?” Many head nurses are not very supportive, all the workload comes onto the junior. Even the way the patients treat us sometimes is very heartbreaking, even when the patient is able to be independent and perform certain tasks on their own, they still demand a nurse, and hospital authorities always favour customers and they give in..it’s not a complaint, but a situation. Head nurses don’t see beyond work, and some of them show a complete disregard to the nurse’s personal life. 

Nurses are only means to an end, a doctor’s say is so much more important. My sister who is working abroad, as a nurse, but the situation over there is; doctors and nurses together communicate, discuss the case and then administer what is needed for the patient.

I feel, in the initial probation period, the head nurses need to be more empathetic and guiding rather than being a nitpicker and arrogant with the new nurses. I somehow managed to complete the  years, leaving the job was very stressful, so it worked in my favor, but this is an issue – a gap in between nursing jobs in our resume is extremely stressful wherein it could mean a professional setback in terms of our next salary.

A personal challenge that you could outline?

Staff shortage and roster issues have always been there, even if there is a good number of staff, some would take an uninformed CL (casual leave) so the on-duty nurse has to do a double duty, this has happened many times with me.  due to staff shortage and had to do 3 shifts back to back. I feel the hospital refuses to look at this issue as an issue, another probable solution to such a situation could be calling a nurse from a bureau for a day or from another department. But, it was a do or die situation for us nurses, the hospital authorities simply tell us – there is no one else, and you will have to do it! These things happen everywhere, we all have become used to it, now, when we go to a hospital, it is expected that we will have to do overtime, it’s sad that it has become so casual. Doesn’t matter if it’s a 3 star or a 5 star hospital, the first thing would be, that we will not know what time we will be back home. Overtime has become a part of nursing, sadly. When our parents ask us, we always tell them, we are not sure what time we will be back today. Despite doing all three shifts, I have come back home in the morning with no idea how I pulled those 24 hours at a stretch! On top of that, no proper day off was given, due to a consistent staff shortage. Many times, this was a condition. In case we don’t comply to the demands of our head nurses, they might not give a holiday that we might need in the future, ofcourse, this outlines the negative aspect of nursing, actually it depends on the nature and professional ethics of the head nurse, of course, if there is a staff shortage we comply and understand the situation, there is a lot of favoritism here as well, initially that was difficult, eventually it all settles down, you learn your way through it.

My sister was mentioning, in abroad, all the nurses have to do is, drop an email if they require to take a day off, and if it is approved or not, they’re immediately informed via mail.They always ask the nurses to postpone their work if possible, if not, they’re allowed to take that leave, and then they contact a bureau and get a nurse, they have more privileges like stress leave for single parent, moreover they have a healthy communication with their leaders. Here, most of the leaders/head nurses, not all, but most of them have very bad communication skills and they don’t allow their juniors to express themselves. Once, we get used to the environment, we do better.

What are you parting thoughts?

Of course, despite all the issues I spoke about – I absolutely love nursing, of course, each job has its pros and cons, here you get an absolute chance to be of service to humanity and help them through their pain – what more could you ask for!